Saturday, March 31, 2007

We're down to 3 or 4

Rumors have circulated about Bielien as the top choice for the job. The commentators are almost unanimous that he is a great coach. Whether he can recuit is another story. I believe by mere proximity alone to a hoops recruiting hotbed it will certainly improve. How much so is the question.

I watched both the semifinal and final games of the NIT. The offense of WVU is well schooled, yet they are also not afraid to push the ball up the court. This was one of my reservations not having watched WVU before. They are clearly not a slowdown team. While you can try to judge the relative speed of the game by possessions, it can be difficult due to turnovers. Having watched the game, especially Clemson, it is clear that the guards had the green light to push the ball. Some of the pushing came even when there were not favorable numbers. This observation set aside some of the fears I had about a Bielein coached team.

What may be more intereting, however, is what they do with a big man. Is the Bielein offense flexible enough to utilize a true post up player? Logically, a coach with his experience, undeniable tactical expertise should be able to accomodate a true low post player. Yes, I understand that we haven't had such a player (Courtney Sims -- I think not) for some time. But it is my hope that when this program gets turned around that the lure of UM and winning will bring in some top recruits, including low posts.

My answer: John Thompson III at G'Town employs a similar offensive scheme as Bielein. Hibbert is thriving in that system, and has become a star in his fourth and final year with G'Town. Bielein is every bit as good a coach as Thompson (probably better) and I, for one, suggest that he will be able to adapt to a quality low post player. If so, the question is really can he convince that type of player to come to Michigan? Bielein can certainly rely on a record of vastly improving players that come to his teams (something foriegn to TA) and that alone should post up recruits to consider his teams. Add in the attraction of UM (and hopefully new facilities in the next 5 years) and we could become a powerhouse at recruting, if the Bielein's personality meshes with the families and AAU coaches in Detroit, Flint and Saginaw, and Grand Rapids. In my opinion, much of this will be accomplished solely players, coaches, and families seeing a well coached, disciplined team on the floor -- something that hasn't happened since Fisher was here.

As for guards and swing players, it seems hard to believe that players like Grady, Harris and Legion would not want to play in a system that highlights cuts to the hoop and open three shots. There is obviously discipline, but it is within a system that clearly gets players good open shots. I was very impressed with the ability of WVU players to cut to the hoop and kick out for open shots. Ahh, only if Dion had played with a system that allowed him wide open three balls!

So what about Kruger, Lowery, Pearl and Stallings:

CBS reported that Stallings would get an interview, something that appeared to be expected.

"CBS learned Wednesday the school has targeted Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings, who multiple sources said will strongly consider a move from the SEC to the Big Ten if an appropriate deal is presented."
Whether they have any inside information or not, it's interesting to note that they still identify Kruger as a candidate:
"Additional possible candidates for the Michigan job include UNLV's Lon Kruger, Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery and Butler's Todd Lickliter, among others."'

No surprise about Lowery. He has been on the radar the whole search, and should also get an interview. But I don't see Lickliter over Stallings, Beilien and Lowery, much less the possibility of Kruger.

The question is Kruger. He has remained very quiet. There has not been a denial out of Kruger as to the UM job. Of course, that would be in his best interest, anyway, in order to get a bigger contract. But, it is interesting that there has
really been no comment either from Michigan that he is not a candidate, or from Kruger that he's not interested. Kruger remains my first preference. While it looks like Bielien will get the first shot at the job, it would be foolish in my mind for Martin not to sit down with Kruger this weekend and gauge whether there is any chance of him taking the job. Kruger is the same age as Bielien. He has recruiting experience in the midwest, and a proven track record. Kruger apparently remains down to earth despite having coached in the NBA and Vegas.

I thought it interesting that Pearl dispelled
any interest in the Iowa job. When he did so, the stated that in
another time and place, he might have been intersted. But he also stated how well he liked and has success recruiting Michigan. Odd statement if you're not interested in the job:

"'I've recruited Michigan well for years as an assistant at Iowa and a head coach at Southern Indiana, and here and (Wisconsin-) Milwaukee. I've always recruited Michigan. Those are opportunities that you certainly try to get to, but I'm here. I'm in the SEC. I'm at Tennessee. I go to work every day trying to reward Tennessee for bringing me here."

Not exactly a denial of interest in the Michigan job, if you're asking me.

Hire Suzy Merchant!

Suzy Merchant should be the next UM women's coach. We may actually be headed in that direction as the Detroit News reports she's getting a second interview.

Michael Jackson now a Redbird.

Michael Jackson has left the UM for Illinois State. Would have been nice to keep him around, but you can't blame him for wanting to know whether he would be retained by the new coach. Nor can you fault the UM for not committing to his retention without knowing who the next head coach will want to retain. Probably Michigan's best recruiter, Mike Jackson (Michael Jackson as known while point guard at UDM) has great Detroit connections. Good luck to Jackson, and perhaps he will find his way back to A2 in the next couple of years as an assistant. When and if he comes, back, the timing might be right as a replacment for Kruger or Bielein, especially if he's as big as this Michael Jackson!

Good Luck coach Jackson.

Michigan Coaches Like G'Town

Our assistant coaches like Georgetown to win the final four. After getting blown out by both UCLA and G'Town (and losing to OSU twice) they do have some experience. A telling quote from Mike Jackson:

"I've always really liked Georgetown," said Mike Jackson, who will coach at Illinois State next season. "I like everything about Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green. They're a really good team and really well coached."

Unlike your former team, right?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Amaker Gone

Tommy and his wife are fine, classy people. I personally thank him for his hard work. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, and we've all watched in this type bewildering amazement long enough.

So we have finally made it past the Amaker era. The inevitable has happened, and I for one, am ecstatic that it happened this year rather than next. Much is being said about the rekindling of a powerhouse program. Mr. Martin says he wants to win. We'll have to see, we certainly need a coach, a practice facility and a remodeled Crisler, but we appear to be on the way. This step should not be underestimated by those who know absolutely nothing. Andy Katz had some of the early story and some coaching candidate guesses.

There have been many names bandied about. Here are some of the names, with the noted exception of Beilein of West Virginia and Calipari of Memphis. I give Beilein a good shot. But Calipari, why would he leave Memphis for Michigan where he will play second fiddle to football? Of course, were he interested, I'd love to see him offered the job. Instant credibility and image factor. The cash required to get him would also likely force a quicker hand for a practice facility and improvements to Crisler, obviously good things. The other names:

Tom Crean.
A good but likely overpaid coach who's name has been thrown out by the infamous Terry Foster (there alone stands good reason not to believe it). Of course there are rumours that Crean is being groomed for sparty successor, a rumour which is hard to believe as Izzo obviously isn't going anywhere soon. Nonetheless, the Izzo and Crean are buddies, and Crean is a Sparty, would he move over to the darkside even were Michigan interested?

Dana Altman
, is by all accounts a fine coach and will be given consideration by Michigan. However, can you really hire someone from Nebraska and hope to recruit Detroit, Flint, Saginaw immediately? Did I mention he's from Nebraska? You know what they do for excitement in Nebraska, don't you? Ground Tillage.

Lando Calrissian:

(a/k/a Reggie Theus).

Talk about star power. Instant recruiting credibility. Nothing like a movie star, nba player, billy dee williams look look-a-like to hit the recruiting trail. I personally don't view this as a likely scenario, but he should be given a look -- and certainly will be by someone. I can't see him staying at NMSU for long (although would seem a very logical successor at UNLV if you know who ends up in A2.)

Tony Bennett. Obviously there are ties to the midwest, where his dad Dick coached at Sconsin. The recruiting connections may or may not still be alive and well. A great defensive coach and a rising star in the coaching ranks. Were it up to me, he gets the first interview, and would seem a prime candidtate to convince Mr. Martin that The Best Is Yet To Come, now the deciders in Ann Arbor have fired Amaker -- apparently I'm not alone in this thought.

Thad Matta
(just kidding). Who would want to hire a guy that chews that anyway?

Lon Kruger. Were I the A.D. (which I'm not but probably should be) he'd be the second guy I'd bring in after Bennett to consider. A proven winner. Ties to the midwest recruiting from days at Illinois, and I consider a very good coach. My "most likely" hire for U-M, unless Terry Foster or Drew Sharp espouse his merit, in which case I'd then have to reconsider. The only problem with Lon is that he's starting to look a little like the infamous cheater from UNLV!

Chris Lowery. Bruce Weber and Matt Painter coached the Salukis before Lowery. Young, energetic and won't be at SIU for long. His teams play great D, and he does marvelous thing with these recruits, who couldn't do much with a ball before he coached 'em up. He should be on the very short list.

Bob Huggins. Ok. I haven't seen nor heard his name mentioned. It should be, though. This guy can coach and recruit. Sure he's only been at KSU for a year, but if he's willing to coach there, he should be willing to coach at U-M. There are some similarities between the schools. KSU is public. Michigan is public. Oh, and did you know KSU is a football school, now that is Crazy! So apparently Bob is willing to take a backseat to Lloyd and the gang, which is a prereq for the hoop job in A2.